It was end of October 2022, when I received an email from Julian Kampmann from Poljot24.de shop, stating that he has become an official retailer for the watch brand Kleynod from Kyiv watch company in Ukraine. I had to read it again! Kley what?? Brand from Ukraine? Never heard. So I had to go into action..
I must say that I am ashamed. As a collector of ex. USSR watches and then everything what arose from that it is simply unacceptable that I missed that brand. The Kyiv watch company was established way back in 1997, and with the help of some watch forums I learned that the company was at first very closely connected to Poljot and that some Poljot watches assembled in Kyiv had even "Ukraine" stamped on the watch. So I should had known that!!
At the end of 2002 KWF launched their new brand Kleynod (comes from German and Polish word for treasure, jewel). Soon after that the cooperation between KWH and Poljot ended, what is logical.
To get a better impression about the brand, I asked Julian if he can send me some watches just to test them. He gladly agreed, so I picked few models which looked interesting. I must point out, there are more models available then those reviewed here, but those models are - let's say awkward, strange to me, so I can not make fair opinion of them. For example Independence, which was for a long time their flagship, is simply ugly to me. And it is very Ukraine oriented (each series celebrates some Ukrainian anniversary of their independence). Same is true for the next collection, called Embroidery, which uses the elements of Ukrainian national costume.
And then there is also (still available) collection Football, which was issued in 2012 in honor of EURO 2012 which was hosted by Ukraine. For each of the stated collections I picked up just picture of one example from the KWH shop, just to see, what I am talking about. For the sake of simplicity, I am showing just mans watches, even though in fact the main part of Embroidery consist of lady's watches. Some of them are actually interesting (from the point of lady's perspective). But again, those models are not part of my interest.
At start of the brand the company decided to use only Swiss moments, mainly different Ronda quartz movements, some models were developed also with ETA automatic movements. At the time being, almost all the collection consist of watches powered by some of the Ronda quartz movements, few models are automatic watches with Ronda 150 automatic movement. But I will talk more about that later.
So, what did I pick? Four watches from three collections - one from Forces, one from Classic and two from Antonov. Let us go step by step from the cheapest one to the most expensive one.
a) Kleynod Forces
This watch was the first that I take out from the package from Julian, so my very first contact with Kleynod. And my first response was: "Oh, what an interesting concept of the watch box!" In fact, nothing spectacular, yet different than anything I have seen so far. The inner part rises from the outer part, but it does not go out. And when raised, you open the box. I like it. Opening the box and first view of the watch was not so spectacular. Quite opposite, my first impression was that in front of me is one cheap watch on a plastic strap. Even though case is stainless steel, it does not give you that feeling. The light blue strap does look cheap. And I hate, that you have to cut it for making it the right size. Since the watch was just borrowed and not sold, I of course did not cut the strap so I can't give you realistic view, how the watch fits on the wrist.
Ok, that was the first impression. Then I started to check some details. And I was quite impressed about the dial. If you look closely, you suddenly find plenty of different colors under the different angles. Hidden beauty. Hands have a decent luminova.
Even the strap in fact is not so bad at all. I had a misfortune to select the watch with the light blue color, and the main reason for the plastic impression is the color, not the material itself. Strap goes all the way to the case.
Glass is sadly just mineral. I can't understand how a "Forces" watch can have just a mineral glass. You expect the watch for the "Forces" is a robust all purpose watch, mineral glass for sure does not fulfil that expectations. Also the water resistance of just 3 ATM is a disappointment in this respect.
Inside is quartz Ronda 715 movement with the date.
I must point out, that some "Forces" models have very different design of the dial. The main difference lies in the design of the numbers. While "mine" does not have numbers but just hour markers, half of the models have - at least to me - very ugly 3,6,9 and 12 numbers on the dial, and that numbers cover the main part of the dial. And another remark, case can be PVD covered. So the same watch can have very different general outlook. Just for the hint, I again took from the web shop one picture of the watch which has both stated features. On this example bezel also sticks out due to the big color difference while in "mine" bezel is somehow hidden. Bezel is fixed, by the way.
Watch has a diameter of 43mm, height is 10mm. Price - in Ukraine 180 USD, in Poljot24.de shop 225 EUR (with VAT included for the EU customers, non EU customers can reduce VAT). In my opinion, too much.
As an interesting fact for this watch, let me mention, that "Forces" watches were used by Ukrainian president Mr. Zelensky as a gift to some distinguished military persons from the Ukrainian marine forces and the army.
b) Antonov 178
If the "Forces" can be put into cheap everyday sports watch, the "Antonov 178" is something very different. On the very fist moment you get into the contact with the watch, the watch gives you all the best it can offer.
Antonov 178 is a relatively new military mid range transport aircraft, designed and made by Ukrainian company Antonov. Company is a well known aircraft builder from ex. USSR times. First flight was done in 2015, and in cooperation with the Antonov company, Kleynod launched special collection dedicated to this airplane. I must admit, designers were quite successful. There are a lot of tiny little details which reminds you to the aircraft or something connected to the aircraft.
By a bit of misunderstanding Julian sent me two Antonov -178 watches. So the fact, that I have here two watches in the review does not have some hidden agenda behind. But what started as a misunderstanding turned out to be quite a good think. With just one watch (blue was my first selection) I would not get such a deep overview of the watch.
The box has the same construction as the "Forces" box, however it is different. I like that company puts attention to such a detail and that every collection has it's own distinctive box yet still recognizable as a brand watch. As you will notice also with the next watch, Kleynod is here very good. Then when you open both boxes, there is a surprise. Watches does not have just different dial color, the straps are also different. And not just in the color! The entire construction of the strap is different. White dial version has a full leather version strap with very interesting white stripes which obviously imitate airport landing zone. But such an interesting an important detail is missing on the blue dial version where a leather strap is covered with some fabric cover.
First very distinctive thing of the Antonov 178 is a stainless steel case, with a very unusual "aerodynamic" construction. Case extends on the top and on the bottom to the airport landing track. This extension is done very cleverly so that the lugs are hidden deep into the back of the case. Strap goes under the case or better into the case.
With the 44mm width size, L2L is just 45mm but if you would measure edge to edge the total length is 55mm. What is frightening number. "Small" L2L makes this watch much more wearable than one would think reading just this numbers. What also helps is the fact that the watch is not thick - just 11mm.
Both straps are quite thick - what I like. Such a robust case design requires a heavy strap. Band width is 24mm. I noticed that blue version strap is softer, of course considering the fact that I compare totally new straps. I am sure that both straps should get even softer after regular use (but even now they are not crude!)
Dial has a concentric circles which waves out from the center of the second time zone. That is described as an imitation of the radar with the shifted center. With the naked eye, concentric waves are clearly seen on the white version, while on the blue they are not so very obvious.
What next has to be mentioned are the hands. All three hands by its shape again reminds us to an airplane. But I need to again point out that hands are not the same on the blue and white model. White has a nice clean stainless steel hands with blue second hand, while blue version has a hands which remind me of a stone. And I also have to mention that white version has a beautiful color changing hour indexes (blue/green) while blue version has "always white" color indexes. Glass is sapphire.
Both versions have the same blue crown. The color of the crown is a bit too aggressive. It has a shining effect. Dark deep blue would be much better. A nice touch is a stamp AN-178 on the right edge of the case.
Unfortunate, watch is again quartz. It uses Ronda 4210.B. It has two nice complications - a big date and a dual time. It is declared as second zone but this is in fact dual time. Second time is totally independent of the first time zone, so you do not just set another time zone, you set another time. To be precise, the second time zone can not be set fully accurate. You have to use the pusher for setting the second time and the pusher is not extremely accurate.
Price? In Ukraine both versions are 390 USD, in Germany 425 EUR. Not the best price for the quartz watch, but still fair.
My price comment is based on the fact, that Antonov watch quite impressed me. What is funny, I was sure the blue version is the one I would prefer, at the end the white one is by far my favorite. I had a serious consideration in my head about the dilemma, should I take this watch or should I send it back to Julian. The reason why it was sent back at the end will be revealed at the end.
Now, it's time for automatic watch. A Classic watch which was released for the first time back in 2017. It is interesting that Kleynod was one of the first brands in the world that used newly developed Ronda 150 automatic movement. Ronda developed a new automatic movement after long, long years and presented it in 2016. Ronda expected their movement to be an important competitor to ETA 2824 or it's clones. But even until today Ronda 150 is relatively rare movement. The movement itself and the fact that I don't have any watch with Ronda 150 movement in my collection was another reason to my excitement in getting this watch to test.
Let me again start with the package. Again another version of the same box. The first impression is "good, but nothing special". But let me spoil the rest of the review - watch gets under your skin, slowly but steadily.
Let's go back to the introduction point. After the short overview, I decided to put it on my wrist. Watch has standard leather strap with a butterfly clasp. All standard, no surplus here. So, I set the strap to the middle and the strap was way too big. Reset the clasp to the first hole and the size was just right! All ok, but my wrist size is 19,4 cm, so not small at all. And I have to use the first hole on the strap! So all of you with wrist size smaller than my size will have to replace the strap or make another hole on the strap. I don't know if that is a standard package or does Kleynod offers to it's clients to buy the watch with the different strap size, but mine strap is XXL size.
As a consequence, the tail of the cover part of the strap is very long and goes well over the lower part of the wrist. From the top you can see the tail of the strap.
Another unusual combination is the 22mm lug size on just 42mm case size. Nothing wrong with that, I like wider straps. It's just that I would expect 20mm rather than 22mm on this case size.
The shape of the case and the shape of the lugs are very interesting.
The case looks like it is made in three layers, so case looks stepped. And this steps are extended to the lugs as well. Do those lugs reminds you to something? If you are familiar with ex. USSR Poljot production then you might find some similarities with the famous Poljot (actually 1MCHZ at that time) Kirovskie "crab" cases from fifties. Check it yourself! Below is an example of crab case in a Sputnik watch.
With a bit of an imagination I speculated even further. Can this Kleynod be a modern reincarnation of the typical Kirovskie two color crab watches? So the grand grand son of that watches? If you check carefully, most of crabs were known to have inner circle and outer ring, where inner part had either a different pattern either a different color. Check the second watch from the top left, and then compare it to the Kleynod - the dial patterns are very similar. From that point on this watch got me - for me this is the Crab reincarnation!
Since I start discussing the dial - another unusual part are the roman numbers which are designed unusually. I personally do not like roman numbers on the dial very much, wrongly written number four makes me nervous, but nevertheless, I must admit that those numbers are interesting. My wife thinks they are very nice.
Date window is relatively small, I have a feeling that date is not 100% aligned and that the second number is narrower than the first one. Silver hands are very elegant and thin. Nice. Pity that they don't have some luminova. I know that luminova might ruin the elegancy but I wear my watches also over the night and seeing what time is it in the middle of the night is an added value for me.
Going back to the position on the wrist. What impressed me is the fact that for the mechanical automatic movement watch it is quite thin. Only 10mm! I have nothing against bulky watches (check my other reviews), but to have a nice slim watch in the collection as well is great to have. A small contribution to this makes also the movement which is a little thinner than ETA 2824, then the sapphire glass, which is fully flat without any slope, and also the backplate, which is sadly not transparent, so I can't show you the movement itself.
I checked the accuracy of the movement, watch runs between +4 to +9 sec daily, depending on the position. Therefore relatively small positional error. Daily, with some fine tuning, watch could be set into interval 0-5 sec daily.
The price for this watch in Ukraine is 575 USD, in Germany 585 EUR. Sure you can find some pure Swiss watch for this price but still this seems to be a reasonable price. And with all being said you can guess that I will take this watch. It will not be shipped back to Julian.
d) Antonov Mriya
For the end of this article I will go back to the Antonov family watches. Beside Antonov 178 from this year there are another two watches in the Antonov family. Antonov - 225 Mrija.
It was the biggest military transport aircraft in the world, launched in 1988 and was designed also as a carrier for the USSR space shuttle Buran. In 2001 Ukraine repainted the aircraft into Ukrainian national colors, it served for the civil use. Sadly at the early beginning of the Russian invasion to Ukraine in February 2022 it was destroyed by a Russian army. Irony is that Kleynod and Antonov were already developing the new watch dedicated to this airplane before the war started.
The launch of this watch was before the war planned for the April 2022. Watch was launched but the production is due to the war slow.
I present her the two versions of the watch. First one is in original colors, made in limited edition of 1988 watches, the second one is in the later colors, produced in limited edition of 2001 pieces.
The watch is similar to the air plain - a mastodont! Dimension of the watch is 52mm x 54 mm, strap width is 28mm. I have no idea if this watch is wearable at all. It is again a quartz watch with Ronda 7003.L movement.
At the moment the red one can even be bought while for the yelow/blue version back plates are not available. So the delivery period is long. Watch is at the moment only available in the Ukraine for the 690 USD.
I am interested in buying the red version for several reasons. First one is the tight connection of this watch not only to my USSR collection (which is almost cleaned) but also to my space collection. The second reason is that I had the chance to see the Antonov 225 in person and that plane made a huge impression to me. And the third reason is the fact that 15% of every sold watch will be contributed to the fund for restoration of Mrija plane. It is not much, but I will gladly help if this project can be performed.
And that is also the reason, why - despite the fact that I like Antonov 178 - I will not take one. From Antonov collection I will wait for Mrija watch. I can order it now directly in the Kleynod web shop but for now I will wait to see if Julian will be able to obtain it for his shop and then I will order from him.
I have to give a BIG respect to the Kleynod employees to be able to work their best in the watch production while their country is under attack. I can tell you that I had a huge problems in getting all the information from the Kleynod web pages since quite often when trying to open their web page my computer was being attacked by malicious software with suspicious Russian names. That is also the reason that at the moment I will not order the Mrija from Ukraine, I simply don't trust that my data are secure enough. So I can imagine that it is really hard to work "normal" things such as watches in the environment which is far from being normal.
And at the end a big thanks to Julian Kampmann for sending me all the watches. I must point out, this is not a paid review, all my statements are fully mine and unbiased.
P.S.: If and when I receive Mrija watch, this review will continue.